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— July 30, 2013 —

Daphne’s Story
by Daniel McElroy Jr.

This week’s Tail is a letter sent to me by Katie, Daphne’s mom. Katie adopted this sweet dog, Daphne from a local shelter and fell in love with her. The problems started right away, when she realized that Daphne was highly reactive to dogs on leash. She called me not knowing if Daphne was trying to play or if she was truly aggressive. After about 4 minutes, we determined that Daphne was not trying to play. She was overstimulated to the point of aggression and would need serious help. I required that in order to train her, that Katie commit to both the On and Off leash programs due to the severity of the issue. I am happy to report, that after 6 weeks Daphne was actually allowed to play off leash in a group of dogs for the first time (still in a muzzle, just in case).

This week, we will post Katie’s note. Next week, I will begin to outline the exact steps taken to help Daphne overcome her reactivity and help her remain calm enough to engage in appropriate social behavior towards other dogs. Here is Katie’s letter:

I adopted Daphne from my local shelter. She is a 1 yr old hound mix. I had two meetings before I took her home. At each meeting a different volunteer told me that Daphne was the sweetest dog there. She certainly seemed so. She was energetic and friendly towards everyone (human), and still is. She didn't seem to notice or care about all the dogs that were there. That changed immediately once we got home.

It was obvious she had an issue with any and every dog. Walks were impossible. As soon as we saw a dog, she would stand on her hind legs, lunging, barking, baring teeth. She would be choking and even that wouldn't stop her from trying to get to that dog. Even if the dog was a block away, I was forced to literally drag her home. It was hard to hold her back, and I started getting mad at her. Hearing dogs bark while we were inside set her off to attack the door and windows. Our walks had to be really early and really late.

This went on for a month before my Dad brought me an article about Bark Avenue and Daniel. Seems there may be a light at the end of the tunnel! There was a free open house that Saturday so I went. I walked in to scope out the scene while my sister kept Daphne at bay in my car. There were 2 other dogs in the room, so I was glad I didn't have her with me! In fact, I had to have Daniel go to my car and bring her in! She wouldn't take her eyes off the dogs and she stayed in attack mode the entire time. Daniel confirmed that she wasn’t playing. She was aggressive, like a 7 out of 10. I felt like it was a prison sentence for us, or worse.

After talking with Daniel we decided to get her started on the 2 month training program. He suggested a remote training collar and a muzzle. After the first week with the collar I felt so much more confident on our walks. The first day of her second week, she was sitting on a box with a handful of other dogs next to her!

It only got better from there. We have her socializing with other dogs from Bark Avenue without a leash on! Yesterday, she was actually in a play group! She is going on walks with my moms dachshund! This week is her last week of training, and we will forever be grateful to Daniel and his team for showing us how to live a better life together.

Katie and Daphne Z
Check back next week for more details on the story of Katie and Daphne.


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